5th September 2012
It is said in Maori Legend that Maui, a demigod, was swimming around and used the South Island as Canoe to try and catch the Fish of Maui, the North Island, using his grandmother’s jawbone. (don’t ask) if you look at the map of the North Island, you can see it resembles a fish with the bay of Wellington as its mouth and the Northlands its tail.
Isn’t Maori History fascinating? Remember to swot up on it when you book your New Zealand Holidays to get the true meaning of places far and wide across the stunning and culturally rich country.
So where did I go to today? The Tail End of New Zealand or better known as the most Northernmost point of New Zealand…Cape Reinga.
After a day in Paihia in the rain after my history lesson at Waitangi and Haururu Falls, and then followed by a day of travelling to Kaitaia on the West coast of the Northlands via Intercity Bus to stay with Melissa of the Mellyboo Project, it was time to go up to the ‘top end‘ recommended to me by them both.
Booking with Sand Safaris, (don’t forget to book a ticket through the discount website www.grababone.co.nz), I jumped on their bus that would take me all the way through the Aupouri Peninsula to the top of Cape Reinga from Ahipara, a few kilometres south of Kaitaia. A good long drive.
Again, Cape Reinga is steeped in Maori Legend. Te Rerenga Wairua is the jumping off departing point for souls on their way to their spiritual home so this makes the whole Peninsula their big massive diving board! So it is not uncommon to see Maori communities coming up this peninsula to wave goodbye to their loved ones.
These cultural gems were given to is by our amazing Maori bus driver who entertained us throughout. Especially at the start when he told us seriously that he had been part of a programme to get back to work due to his massive criminal record (cue worried looks from people) and that he had just been drinking a lot the night before (cue more worried looks) and wasn’t too sure what the buttons on the bus control panel meant. He then broke into a massive grin and started laughing. Of course he was kidding. This is what I love about Maori people. They have possibly the most awesome sense of humour out of any people in the entire world!
Stopping briefly for a toilet stop at one of the beaches on the east coast of the Peninsula, where I messed around in the sand this getting sand in my pants. What I was complaining about then was in no way in comparison to what I will be complaining about later on that day. It’s not called Sand Safaris for nothing!
Finally, we reached Cape Reinga.
Walking down the pathway to the Lighthouse at the end, you can help but feel the souls departing at this end of the world. The mighty Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea creating whirlpools that crash soundly and in stormy weather, these can reach up to 10m in height. Maybe I won’t go swimming then!
It was such a sunny day as well and my attempts to do a jumping shot was futile before embarrassment got the better of me as an old lady tutted at me as she went by.
Still there are more Maori Legends. At a rock outcropping just branching off next to the Pathway to the Lighthouse, you can see a lone tree. This is called the pohutukawa tree. It is believed to be 800 years old and departing souls are believed to slide down the roots of this tree. So in respect, please don’t go near the tree, let alone drink or eat in the area.
Now the Sand Safari can start. This bus is also 4WD. So instead of travelling back down the Peninsula by the roads we’ve been taking. The tide has moved out far enough for us to travel down another great feature of the Northlands, 90 mile beach!
First off, we stopped off at the Sand Dunes of Te Paki Stream. We get to do an activity. We get to..wait for it…sand board down the dunes!
Armed with a toboggan, it was extremely hard work to get to the lip of the dune and I did feel like I was about to have a heart attack. But seeing as I was one of the ‘youngest’ of the bus crew, I got there first and slammed my way down the sand dune ending up into the water stream itself much to the bus driver’s congratulations! I recommend you wear sunglasses, the sand whizzing in your face doesn’t give you a good look if you are pursing your mouth and squinting under beautiful eyelashes like mine. Check out the video I made of my third attempt to slide down!
Sand got everywhere! Literally everywhere. I would still be finding sand at the bottom of the shower for the next few days and also in my nose when I picked it.
Afterwards, we stopped off at a dew places on the 90 mile beach. It’s absolutely out of this world and you feel like the beach is just gonna go on and on forever!
The tides of the water was quite funny as well, it would be very low one second and then you would have a mini tsunami the next so you were bound to get completely wet. Many a time I fell over laughing when I saw lots of Japanese standing in the water getting stupid poses done only to be drenched! Sweet revenge for the slow walking they make whilst taking photos of a bin…
All in all, it was an absolutely cracking day, and I loved hearing about the culture and legends. The driver even made a special effort to drop me back at Melissa and Kate’s house aww.
Also, it would was a great start for the next few days of my time in Ahipara and Kaitaia. Bring it on!
The cape is certainly a very special spot – that pohutakawa tree always amazes me!
Glad that you got to experience the magic, I reckon a guided tour is definitely the way to go, as you get so much of the history and culture along with it (and hey, if you can score one on GrabOne, it’s a mean deal!)
It was awesome to have you stay and hang out!